Old Man of Coniston (2634 ft) Route from Walna Scar>Big Hill>Stubthwaite Crag>Colt Crag>Summit
2019 will see the launch of a new venture for the Hades Hill ponies. We are busy making preparations for FELL PONY ADVENTURES, taking clients on wild camping treks through the Cumbrian fells, walking alongside pack ponies. A few years ago some friends and I took five Fell ponies on a 4 day trek through the Howgills and over High Street. It was so good to get away from the roads and traffic and such an amazing experience that this year I decided to get myself through Mountain Leader training so that I can give others a similar experience. But first I need to get a few more mountains under my belt without the ponies and the Old Man of Coniston is where it starts...
I’m parked at the Walna Scar rough car park which is as far as you can get by a car. It’s already after 2:30pm but I had my bag ready to go and it was last minute decision when I got an unexpected few hours free to myself.
As soon as I leave the car I feel the first drops of rain. It's an easy gravel track for the first stint but I'm soon stepping between slate and rocks and before I know it I turn around and I'm in another world. The clouds are grey and black and It's starting to feel like the entrance to Mordor.
I’m walking under great lines of twisted wire and buckled mine tracks.
Around the next corner a few walls and a couple of timbers remind us that men worked here.
But around another corner and I am in a heavenly place of clear opal blue slate water.
It’s raining heavier now so I don’t stop for long. I’ve come across maybe a dozen people and they’re all working their way down and I’ve only done half of the ascent.
The summit is in cloud now but looking back the mist clears a view of the tarn. The climb is getting steeper. The twists and turns come faster. The rain is getting harder. I pass a family of Americans making their way down and we comment with a smile about the weather.
The last stretch is a little more testing but I make it to the top in about an hour and my leg has held out (I tore a ligament last year after being thrown of a young pony). The heavens open and I am am now soaked to the skin all over. Waterproof jacket didn’t hack it (I took a lighter one by choice but next time go for the one that works).
On the way down I'm not messing around and I pass many of the people who I’d seen on the way up. Several in jeans soaked to the skin. Many in the wrong footwear. To try and keep spirits up I say to several as I’m passing “At least it’s not cold!” but they all said they were. I don’t think they were moving fast enough cos I was steaming!
What I learned... I need a to take my properly waterproof jacket!
Keep a towel and dry clothes in the car.
Sort out a decent mic and waterproof housing for my iPhone.
Don't rely on the weather forecast.